About those Guidelines

I was reading posts in one of the writer groups I follow on Facebook the other day and several of the writers were lamenting about the restrictions in markets—things like:

No animal cruelty, no child abuse, no vampire/werewolf/zombies, etc. No serial killers.

One writer commented that they still send stories of these kinds to markets despite the restriction, something they bragged had even worked.

The example restrictions above are actually from LampLight, not the thread, and I wanted to talk about them.

I get stories that go against the guidelines all the time. Some are even fantastically written. Amazing zombie stories, horrific vampire ones. I get a lot of what I would consider ‘drama’—stories that are slice of life, and while tragic, lack that which you need to be a horror story.

Some of which I have quite enjoyed reading. I also rejected them.

The thing about the guidelines is that yes, there is some wiggle room in them, their intention has nothing to do with the writer.

Guidelines are about the reader.

LampLight, as other markets, has a certain theme, mood and feel to it. This helps the reader to know what to expect. A market that goes for anything may be convenient for the writer, but will struggle to find an audience.

More how the story isn’t the whole story—I’m not looking for a good story, I’m looking for a good LampLight story.

Which is why as a submitting author it is important to know the market. And, if the only thing you know about the market is the guidelines, then it is even more important that you abide by them.

On Contemplation and the Public Domain

I was reading On Haiku, by Hiroaki Sato this past January (highly recommended!), and in it Sato mentioned an article published in 1923, On the Method of Practicing Concentration and Contemplation translated by Kakuso Okakura, which was the first complete instructions for zazen translated into English.

At the time, it was January 2019, which was different from the previous 20 or so years in an important way—public domain had advanced one year, which meant that works published in 1923 were now public domain.

Well! I went looking for it on a whim and found a scanned copy online and began the process of typing it up…

(then 2019 happened. sigh)

AND then, in December, I pulled it back out and finished typing it up. It’s about 12,000 words, featuring the translation by Kakuso Okakura, and a forward from William Sturgis Bigelow.

So, here it is, in ebook form, the pamphlet. On the Method of Practicing Concentration and Contemplation by Chi Ki, translated by Kakuso Okakura.

ePubMobi

ebook Cover for On The Method of Practicing Concentration and Contemplation

On the Method of Practicing Concentration and Contemplation

Chi Ki (Chik I)

A Monk of Shuzenji (Hsiutanszu) Monastery of Tendai (Tient’ai) Moutain

Translated by Kakuso Okakura

with a Prefatory Note by William Sturgis Bigelow

note: For the third-person singular pronoun, the translator used he/him, which would have been the proper style at the time. This has been changed the pronouns to they/them to reflect modern style guides. The preface remains unchanged.

Year in Writing, 2018

A quick look at what I wrote in 2018.

Poetry

I can say without a doubt I composed the best poem I have ever written in 2018. Called “Retractable Ball Point Pen” it was dedicated to a friend. At nearly 1,000 words, it is the longest I have ever written, and yet despite the length I still put a lot of work into every word, phrase, line ending. It took months to finish editing, and I had read it so much at that point I nearly had it memorized.

I read it aloud at Scares That Care Weekend, and it was well received. I’m not sure what the future is for this piece.

The interesting thing is that it inspired me to try longer poems more often. My form has always been the short lyric, inspired by Catullus. The longer form has some interesting things I like to play with more. I’ve started one about Odysseus and Aeneas, hopefully it will be worth showing off.

April was poetry month and I did my April Poems as I usually do. This year, based on my obsession with Japanese poetry, I decided to try writing tanka for the month. April Poems, 2018 has 30 tanka, or at least tanka style poems. I am not quite sure if I am getting some of the nuance of the form. That collection I released at Scares That Care Weekend as well.

Fiction

I started off the year with a great accomplishment. The draft of My Brother’s Mountain is finished in January, and I put it together and sent it to a friend to read. She loved it. Oh, I got notes, and edits to do, but the question of “is this something worth reading?” was answered.

Unfortunately I did not finish those edits. But that is top of the list for this coming year.

I wrote a story, “Here there be Dragons, Shopping,” submitted and rejected for a great anthology. It was sadly the only submission of the year.

Blogging

I started off with good intentions, as we all do. I started writing a post on haiku, and plan to write follow on about tanka and renga as well.

I did write about How Reading Wuthering Heights is as Close To Writing a Zombie Novel I’ve Ever Gotten. My goals for 2019 include more nerdy posts about what computer stuff I use for book writing and making.

Writing Software

On the software side, I make a slight change and purchased iA Writer. It has some features, such as tags, which make it better for organization that ByWord. That said, it is only a slight change, as I still use ByWord as well. (like now for this post!)

I’ve recently been going back to Scrivener. When I first got it, I started immediately changing the settings to customize things. I’ve since reset almost everything, thinking some of my issues with the software have been self-created. I do still think that it focuses too much on formatting when it should be focusing on writing.